Welcome to the Chattahoochee Driftwood Podcast – episode 1

Helping everyday leaders be a little bit better – everyday.

Go to our podcast page, listen to our welcome episode, and tell us what you think! Also, please feel free to send in ideas to lauren@bgallen.com for future episodes.

We hope you enjoy it.

Millennials, Let’s Move Past the Jargon by Lauren Allen

Lauren Allen

An article on the Forbes website from January 2012 used the following quote from Jennifer Chatman, management professor at the University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business,

“Jargon masks real meaning.”

I hope that you will allow me some small liberties with this phrase. Jargon relates to words or phrases that are used within certain professions or groups that are often difficult to understand outside of those contexts. Ms. Chatman’s argument was that “People use it as a substitute for thinking hard and clearly about their goals and the direction that they want to give others.”

Here is where I will begin to take liberties with this phrase. Millennials. I said it out loud, which seems akin to speaking the name Voldemort aloud. The term millennial has become such a “buzzword” and catchall for all-the-bad-things over the last decade. This apt-named generation has been blamed for everything from the housing shortage to cereal sales dropping to the decline of the sale of beer; all with plenty of research to back the blame.

Full disclosure, I am a millennial, of the older set that came of age during the recession of 2008. Admittedly, I do resonate with a lot of what is said about my generation. I would rather my doctor’s office text me reminders and email me about bills that I owe. For one, I keep my calendar on my phone and I can add to it automatically from a text, also mail can get lost and it is a waste of paper product. To me, I am being efficient and thoughtful – not lazy. Yet, at the same time I have weekly phone calls scheduled with friends that live in a different state than my own as my relationships are important to me.

I believe that jargon can be helpful in helping a group understand their common purpose but too often it shifts to being a substitute for thinking hard – just as Ms. Chatman said. The term millennial is useful in giving a framework to other people about a very large swath of the population yet it has devolved into an excuse for people to not think and to not deal with the issues at hand but to shift blame. It is often easier to, for example, blame millennials for the housing shortage yet not take into account that existing homeowners are rate-locked which has everything to do with the market and mortgage rates. And the market has all generations participating, not just millennials.  

Millennials haven’t made the big sweeping changes that the world is facing, but we are reaping the rewards and the drawbacks of decisions made years before we came of age or were even alive. The concept of the internet was first introduced in the early 1960s by J.C.R. Licklider. Yet, as millennials we are the first generation to begin to fully participate with the internet -almost 30 years afterwards.

I, for one, would prefer that people would come up with solutions that involve everyone (we now have 5 generations in the workplace-at once!) instead of using inflammatory jargon that is thrown about so carelessly deflecting blame. As a millennial what I am asking, is that you would be willing to come alongside me and help show me the way…understanding that if and when I take your advice it will most likely look very different in my own life. Mostly,  because I am a different person but also because much has changed and will continue to change within our world. Yet, I know that sound advice will always be sound and I respect those that have paved the way before me and as well as alongside me.

don’t put your employees in the hospital!

Photo by Martha Dominguez de Gouveia on Unsplash

“Simply put, employers can make decisions to improve people’s lives in fundamentally important ways. Or, alternatively, employers can, either intentionally or through ignorance and neglect, create workplaces that literally sicken and kill people.”

(Pfeffer, 2018)

This quote is one of the many that stopped me dead in my tracks. To realize that the quality of our leadership can literally put people in the hospital or improve the quality of their lives is very sobering. The subtitle of the book is arresting as well – How Modern Management Harms Employee Health and Company Performance – and What We Can Do About It. Sure, we managers are all about organizational performance (which is important by the way!), but too often the way we are leading is not only detrimental to organizational performance, more importantly, it is detrimental to the very health of the people we are leading.

Jeffrey Pfeffer is the Thomas D. Dee II Professor of Organizational Behavior in the Graduate School of Business at Stanford University and is the author or co-author of 15 books – so he is well qualified to address this subject. Following is a sampling of some “brutal facts” from his book that illustrate our need to become better leaders.

  • “The American Institute of Stress maintains that job stress costs US employers more than $3oo billion annually. The ill-health from workplace stress adversely affects productivity and drives up voluntary turnover.”
  • “In total, workplace environments in the US may be responsible for 120,000 excess deaths per year-which would make workplaces the 5th leading cause of death, and account for about $180 billion in additional health-care expenditures, approximately 8% of the total; health-care spending.”
  • “According to the Mayo Clinic, the person you report to at work is more important for your health than your family doctor. – Bob Chapman”
  • “Simply put, employers can make decisions to improve people’s lives in fundamentally important ways. Or, alternatively, employers can, either intentionally or through ignorance and neglect, create workplaces that literally sicken and kill people.

These statistics should be a clarion call to action for us as leaders.

Continue reading BG’s post on Coachwell’s site by clicking here

titles do not make leaders

He always had a smile playing around the corners of his mouth ready to burst into that full fledged humorous smile that made others around him smile in spite of themselves. He had a sparkle in his eyes and a jaunty spring to his step. He had a gift for seeing the humor in almost any situation and was quick to point it out.

He always had a kind word for people; always encouraging others and he seemed to know when you needed it the most. He was the kind of person that caused you to become better just by being around him.

He was optimistic about the future and was always “planting trees” for the next generation. He didn’t look back, but was always looking expectantly towards the horizon.

When I was first privileged to meet him, he was already well into his 70’s and had retired from his vocational job many years before. In his 70’s he was a “younger” and more optimistic person than most 20-year olds. He had endured much and walked with a limp due to a German machine-gun bullet that had gone through both of his legs.

We both sat on the governing body of a nonprofit as volunteers and had no formal authority as individuals. Many times our meetings got quite lively if you know what I mean. Yet when that gentle man quietly started to speak, all the noise, all the fuss stopped as everyone waited to hear what he had to say. Just a few quiet words of wisdom from that man changed the direction of many meetings – in a good way.

He was a man of integrity, a man of honor, a man of wisdom, who cared for people, who cared for the truth, was passionate about the mission, and was ever looking forward. He was a leader because of who he was, not because of any title.

I miss Mr. Al and I want to be like him when “I grow up”.

6 questions leaders must answer

Much is written about how to use questions to lead; about how leaders need to be asking the right questions of those they lead.

However, one key aspect of leadership, is answering questions for the people that you are leading. In one of my favorite organizational health books, The Advantagemy favorite organizational health / business author, Patrick Lencioni, lists “Six Critical Questions”. These six questions must be answered by leaders of organizations for their followers if they want to optimize the performance of their organization.

  1. Why do we exist?
  2. How do we behave?
  3. What do we do?
  4. How will we succeed?
  5. What is most important, right now?
  6. Who must do what?

So, how are you answering those questions for your organization?

I hope it is a tremendous week for you!
BG

Leaders versus Managers

Managers are receiving a bad rap in my opinion.

I enjoy learning and sharing about leadership, so I keep up fairly well with the current literature. Additionally, I have been an adjunct professor at the graduate level for about 14 years often teaching on management / leadership using various texts.

I have seen a bit of a disturbing trend in the literature and online that sends, or implies, the message “Leaders = Good, Managers = Bad.” People are encouraged “don’t be a manager, be a leader!” as if managers are not leaders. That is the wrong message!

The contrast some writers make is actually about being a good boss versus a bad boss. For others, the distinction is that leaders operate at a strategic level while managers work at an operational or tactical level. The implication here is that the strategic is more important than the tactical. However, we all know that unless it is well executed at the tactical level, a strategy is meaningless. Leadership skills are required to transform strategies into action.

Managers are leaders and supervisors are leaders! Without managers and supervisors, we would never get anything done! They are leading the teams that are actually doing the work.

What we really have are:

Strategic Leaders or Managers (Executives)—setting organizational level vision, direction, and strategy.

Operational Leaders or Managers (Directors and Senior Managers)—coordinating the work of multiple tactical level teams in order to execute the strategy set by the strategic leaders.

Tactical Leaders or Managers (Managers and Supervisors)—leading the teams of people actually doing the work of the organization.

So, please do not use the term “manager” as if it is somehow less than the term “leader.” Being a manager is an honorable role and it is a leadership role.

BG

When taking command of my first Army unit, my battalion commander told me:

“Captain, your responsibilities are simple, you are responsible for everything that does or does not happen in your unit.”

No excuses, no deflecting blame to someone in my unit, no dodging responsibilities. As the leader of the unit – I was responsible – period.

Excuses and leadership don’t go together.

Responsibility and duty do go together with leadership.

Being a leader means you are responsible for your team – period.

BG

good books on leadership

Leadership as an Identity: The Four Traits of Those Who Wield Lasting Influence

If you are like me, I thoroughly enjoy learning from others about leadership and I have found one of the best ways to learn from them is to read their books.

On the FYI.to site, I have listed many of my favorites. Check out my Leadership Books.

I would also appreciate your suggestions as to others I need to add!

FYI.to site on Organizational Health

https://bgallen.fyi.to/organizationalhealth

“How to Be a C.E.O., From a Decade’s Worth of Them” – Adam Bryant